Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous 10 | Next 10

Mar. 26th, 2017


The next book I will talk about in this series, in which I discuss how each of my books made it into publication, is the novella LOCKED ROOM MISERY which I co-wrote with Bram Stoker winning author Benjamin Kane Ethridge.

When Benjamin and I finished the story, we immediately started talking about places to submit. We'd both worked with a lot of great publishers, but the majority of those were not open to short novellas unless they were part of a larger collection. Therefore, our options were a bit more limited.

However, I had done a lot of work with Tom Moran, who ran Sideshow Press and after that Gallow's Press. He had put out a few novellas over the years, so I thought Gallow's would be a good place to try.

Tom read the novella, enjoyed it, and agreed to publish it. He even provided the very creepy and eye-catching cover. (Tom Moran has done more covers for me than any other artist, 8 altogether: A LAYMON KIND OF NIGHT, CREATURES OF THE LIGHT, TALES FROM THE MIDNIGHT SHIFT, DARK TREATS, GHOSTS IN THE ATTIC, SEQUEL, THE HUNT, and LOCKED ROOM MISERY.)

Quite a bit of time passed between the acceptance and the eventual publication of the novella. Gallow's Press was starting to wind down, and I believe that LOCKED ROOM MISERY ended up being the very last book they ever put out.

Because of this, publicity for the book was little to nothing. The novella garnered little attention, no major reviews, and at only one Amazon review is one of my least-reviewed books. It is admittedly a strange hybrid novel, a mystery with strong horror elements and an enigmatic ending that is a bit of a brain-twister. That doesn't appeal to all readers, but I still believe there's an audience out there for what we accomplished.

The experience working with Benjamin was a great one, and as with any collaboration I've ever done, I walked away learning something from him and feeling like a better writer because of our time together.

LOCKED ROOM MISERY can be purchased here: https://www.amazon.com/Locked-Room-Misery-Benjamin-Ethridge-ebook/dp/B00L8BXD7W/ref=la_B005C18L7Q_1_39?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1490536028&sr=1-39&refinements=p_82%3AB005C18L7Q

Mar. 19th, 2017


My first experience with horror occurred when I was maybe six or seven years old. They were airing The Exorcist on television and I heard my mother talking about it. I’m not sure why, but I felt compelled to watch it with her. Perhaps because she spoke about it in a hushed whisper, like it was something secret and shameful and unquestionably adult. I pestered and cajoled and whined until she finally agreed to let me watch. It was edited for television, so possibly she thought anything too traumatic would be cut out, but truthfully I grew up with very little restriction on what I watched or read.

I started the film with great excitement, and I made it about as far as Linda Blair floating above her bed before I literally cowered behind the sofa. At that point my mother sent me to bed. I won’t lie, even though the film frightened me that much, I was hesitant to go to bed and pretty much had to be forced.

Why? Am I a glutton for punishment? At the time, I doubt I could have articulated my feelings, but in retrospect I think I can put some of them into words. I had watched a lot of movies already at that young age, and while I enjoyed them, they had made no lasting impression on me. They were colorful diversions that came and went but didn’t really make an impact. With The Exorcist, that movie had impact! It made an impression, one that has stayed with me all my life. That’s powerful storytelling.

After that, I specifically sought out horror films, seeking that same powerful impact. Not all horror films gave it to me. Like any genre, there is good and bad to be found. However, I was rapidly becoming a horror addict. The Exorcist initially grabbed me by the balls and made me notice the genre, but what kept me coming back?

For most of my youth, I didn’t even ask that question. I just knew I liked it and that was enough for me. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve given it a bit more thought. I’ve reached several conclusions.

First, and perhaps most obvious, horror is exciting. It gets the adrenaline pumping, it creates that delicious feeling of suspense, and it provides delightful jump scares that frighten you then leave you laughing at yourself. Even in the terror, there’s something fun in that.

Second, horror is a playground of the imagination. Literally anything is possible, there are no limits or taboos that can’t be broken. Humans, by our nature, are imaginative creatures, and horror can be a wonderful outlet for that.

Third, and perhaps most importantly for me, horror when done right is an exercise in empathy. I know, there was an article out a while back that suggested horror fans lacked empathy, but that has not been my experience at all. True horror, in my opinion, relies on empathy to work. As a watcher or a reader, I become invested in characters, grow to care about them, feel their joy and pain, put myself in their shoes…and thus when horrible things begin to happen to them, I actually feel something. It is my empathy for the characters that creates the suspense that is essential to effective horror. I wrote an essay about this very subject for Apex magazine: http://www.apex-magazine.com/how-horror-made-me-more-empathetic/

So yes, I freely and openly admit to being a horror fan. It’s not because I’m a twisted person or a masochist or that I lack empathy. I enjoy horror because I’m a person who appreciates imaginative fiction that builds suspense, and I recognize that well-done horror actually strengthens and encourages empathy for our fellow human beings.

That’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Mar. 14th, 2017

Interview with Warren Rochelle

In 1998 I started my senior year of college, and was excited to take Creative Writing with Warren Rochelle. He was a great instructor and really helped me develop my writing. He's a talented author in his own right and has published several stories and novels. His latest, The Werewolf and His Boy, is a wonderful blend of horror and fantasy with a strong love story. I talked with him about the book.

Can you tell us anything about from where the initial inspiration for THE WEREWOLF AND HIS BOY sprang?

The initial inspiration sprang from a dream my partner, Gary, had some years ago about a monster lurking in the rafters at Lowe’s, a store he was frequenting for home repairs. He described the monster as a werewolf. From that came a short story, “Lowe’s Wolf,” which was published in Icarus. And from the story, the novel. At the suggestion of my Samhain editor, Lowe’s became Larkin’s.

Did you read up on werewolf lore before starting or work at creating your own version of the mythology?

Yes, I read up on werewolf lore and mythology before starting, and I also read up on wolves as well. I did tweak the werewolf lore a little. I made Henry a nonlunar voluntary werewolf, and gave him enhanced powers of camouflage. The latter I extrapolated from the ability of wolves to be sometimes hard to see in the wild.

One of the things I loved most was how you took a traditional horror trope and wove it into what is essentially a fantasy novel. Do you enjoy that kind of blending of genres?

Yes, I do enjoy blending genres, if a story calls for it. However, this particular blending was sort of unplanned. While people were scared of Henry in his wolf-form, he really wasn’t so horrifying, except perhaps when he had to defend Jamey. I think that the lines between genres are blurred anyway, and that horror, or the horrific, in particular, seems to bleed into other genres.

How long did the novel take you to write?

I should keep better track of such things! There were three drafts, done at different times. The first one, maybe a year or so. The second draft, 6 months or so, and the same for the third.

The love story aspect of the tale is very strong and ultimately imperative to the novel’s resolution. Were you making a statement on the power of love or did that just happen organically?

I have always believed that love can be one of the most powerful forces in the universe. That said, I knew from the beginning, when I wrote the short story, that the tale was a love story. The statement about the power of love, however, did happen organically in the writing of the novel. I do believe love has the power to change, and to transform society, if not the world or the universe.

Another prevailing theme is how religion can undermine a gay person’s sense of morality and worth. Was that something you plotted out from the beginning, or did that develop as the story was written?

The novel is set in an alternate universe, one in which the Watchers have been suppressing and making knowledge as inaccessible as possible (hence the fear of computers and cell phones and how expensive such things are and so on). The Watchers have also seen fit to keep people separate and to be sure scapegoats are always available. They cultivated and promoted fear of the Other. In other words, I exaggerated what exists in this universe: the misuse of religion to reinforce such fears. So, I had this notion in the beginning but it did develop as the novel progressed into what Jamey faced in his own family and what led Henry to lead much of his childhood and adolescence in the shadows.

Is there a particular sequence or aspect of the novel that is your favorite, perhaps one that was the most fun to write?

Interesting question. I really enjoyed writing the scenes set in London and Cornwall. I also enjoyed writing the dream journeys, when the boys were learning what their powers and abilities were and the scenes when they are with Loki.

The title is a play on the Narnia book The Horse and His Boy. Are you a big C.S. Lewis fan, and can you tell me what about his writing inspires you?

The title is a deliberate homage to C.S. Lewis. I’ve been a big C.S. Lewis fan since I was in the third grade and read the Narnia series for the first time. Since then, I have studied and taught C.S. Lewis and have a more nuanced view of his work, but I still love Narnia. It made a deep and lasting impression on me; Narnia is, in many ways, still Faerie to me.

What is it about C.S. Lewis’ writing that inspires me? His use of the mythical, the religious, and how it easy was to feel at home in Narnia. That he wasn’t afraid to talk about love.

Once the first draft was complete, how did you go about finding a home for the novel? What led you to Samhain?

I wasn’t so much led to Samhain as I was sent there. I first sent the novel to Blind Eye Books. The editor returned it to me with some very specific suggestions for revisions, which I did. A free-lance editor friend also reviewed it and I worked with her to make the Blind Eye changes. When I sent it back to Blind Eye, the editor decided the novel wasn’t a good fit for Blind Eye Books and suggested Samhain, in particular, her editor there. I contacted the Samhain editor and that editor reviewed the novel and offered me a contract. She also had some very specific suggestions for revisions.

How was the editorial process? Did you have to make many changes to the story?

Fun, in a weird and intense sort of way. For me, when I am working on a story, whether the first draft or in revisions, I find myself living in the story’s world, as if I were inside a continuing dream. I think this is true for many writers. The editorial process makes this story inhabiting an intense experience. One of the biggest changes was a Blind Eye one: only 3 POVs, which meant a fair bit of rewriting. There were also a fair number of small changes, fine tuning, as it were, eliminating inconsistencies, and thus being sure I was telling the truth.

Can you tell us anything about your writing process? Do you have a dedicated writing space, certain times of the day you prefer to write, that sort of thing?

I usually write in my study at home. The room is a tad messy, but it’s comfortable. Sometimes my cat, Fred, hangs out with me. Depending on the project, I will often outline first. Before I can get any story going, I have to know where it ends. I don’t mean anything specific, other than, say, a beach. Where the beach is and how the characters get there, comes later. Henry and Jamey had to be getting ready for more adventures. I had no idea where they would be when that happened or how they might get there.

I also need a beginning that feels right and true. Once I’ve figured out the beginning and the end, I can begin. As for certain times of the day, I gave that up a while ago, as my teaching schedule changes every semester. I try to write something every day, even if that means reviewing what was previously written. Revision I do just about anywhere. A big chunk of the revisions for
Werewolf I did at my partner’s house. He earned the novel’s dedication!

As an aside, Gary shared that dedication with Doris Betts, my freshman English teacher at UNC-Chapel Hill. She, among other teachers I could list here, changed my life. I wish she had lived to see it.

Lastly, what future projects are brewing in that mind of yours? What can we look forward to from Warren Rochelle?

I just sent in a revised short story, “Feathers,” which will be out very soon on Second Hand Stories, a podcast. The story will be read out loud. That is a first for me. “Feathers” is part of an ongoing project a collection of gay-themed retellings of traditional fairy tales.

Another project is a long story or a novel that will be the sequel to my first novel,
The Wild Boy. A hundred years have passed since the Lindauzi Suicide and slowly civilization is returning, spreading out from various centers that survived the century and a half of Lindauzi control of the Earth. One such center is in what was once central North Carolina. One day, strangers from the west, arrive, with stories that can’t be true. Surely all the alien Lindauzi are dead…

And I hope a sequel to The Werewolf and Hs Boy. I already know where both of these sequels will end.

Check out Warren here: http://warrenrochelle.umwblogs.org/2017/03/13/mark-allan-gunnells-talks-about-his-new-book-the-cult-of-ocasta-march-2017/

Mar. 8th, 2017

Origin Stories: LIGHTS OUT

I’m continuing my Origin Stories series by talking about the digital collection LIGHTS OUT. This one I think is a fun little book with an interesting history.

I’ll have to start by talking about why the collection even exists. Back in 2010, Sideshow Press released a horror calendar, each month sporting a gruesome or haunting illustration from Tom Moran or Tony Karnes. I purchased the calendar and was instantly inspired, deciding to start a fun project for the year. Each month I would pen a tale based on that month’s illustration. Once I got started, I came up with a wrap-around story about boys at a summer camp, staying up past lights out to swap scary stories.

At first I was doing this for the sheer pleasure of it, no thought toward publication. However, after I wrote the first story, “The Woman on the Side of the Road,” I sent it to Tom to read and he came up with this idea of publishing the collection with all the illustrations sometime in 2011. I became excited by the prospect.

However, once the year was done and I had all twelve stories completed, the project got put on the backburner. Eventually Sideshow cut back on production, and this book was abandoned. Tom did start Gallow’s Press, but because it focused on affordable trade paperbacks and ebooks, the elaborate idea he had for LIGHTS OUT was not feasible so it seemed the collection was dead in the water.

I put it aside and didn’t think about it for a couple of years, but every so often I would go back and look through it. I thought it was a fun book unlike any of my other collections, the stories having a real urban legend, round-the-campfire sort of feel.

When I started working with Evil Jester Press, I consulted my editor there, Peter Giglio, to see if he might have any interest in the collection. He said at less than 100 pages it was too short for a publisher to mess with and suggested I add more stories to it. I considered that, but felt it would be untrue to the spirit of the book. It felt complete with the twelve stories based on the calendar illustrations, even if the illustrations weren’t included.

In early 2014 I decided that if I couldn’t find a publisher willing to publish such a short collection, I’d just do it myself. I had self-published some ebooks of older out-of-print books before, so I decided to do the same for LIGHTS OUT.

The only snag was the issue of a cover. With my previously published books, I got permission from the publisher to use the covers of the original editions, but I had nothing for this one. I decided to do something myself, crude and amateurish as it might be. I took a photo in a dark room of a lit flashlight lying on the floor and went with that. Not the most artistic, but it gets the job done.

I uploaded the file to Amazon, and there it has sat ever since. I haven’t gotten a great deal of feedback on this one, though I’d love some more. I just think more than any of my other collections, this one is just pure fun and I hope that it entertains folks.

LIGHTS OUT can be ordered here: https://www.amazon.com/Lights-Out-Mark-Allan-Gunnells-ebook/dp/B00I17EBE0/ref=la_B005C18L7Q_1_36?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1489017973&sr=1-36&refinements=p_82%3AB005C18L7Q

Feb. 12th, 2017


Five years ago, almost to the day, Evil Jester Press released my first published novel, THE QUARRY. It enjoyed a really lovely reception, and I got a lot of positive feedback on the novel. I also took a particular pleasure in the fact that the story was set at Limestone College, my alma mater, and the cover art even incorporated some photos I took of the campus.

I had no plans at the time to write a sequel, but it was actually my editor Peter Giglio who championed the idea, and an offhanded comment he made about the connection between two characters sparked the idea for a continuation.

And now, five years later, Evil Jester Press has released my follow-up to THE QUARRY, my newest novel entitled THE CULT OF OCASTA: THE FINAL LIMESTONE STORY.

This book was a long time coming. I originally started it very shortly after the release of THE QUARRY, but I had to put it aside when I contracted to deliver a novel to JournalStone. Once that novel was done, my attention was taken by a few other projects, until finally I looked back over what I had written on THE CULT OF OCASTA and my passion for the story was reignited and I dove headfirst into it.

The writing took a little longer than I expected. Not because I struggled or put it aside for chunks of time. I wrote on the novel consistently, but it just turned out to be a longer project than I had anticipated. It is far from a Stephen King sized tome, but it is to date my longest novel.

Once it was completed, I turned it in to Charles Day over at Evil Jester and was thrilled when he agreed to publish it. Peter was no longer working for them, having decided to focus on his own writing, but Briana Onishea edited this one, and Jim Kavanaugh did a stunning cover that recreates in wonderful detail one of the Limestone buildings.

I'm beyond ecstatic to finally have this book out. I think it's some of my finest work, and a novel I'm incredibly proud of. I hope that people enjoy it, and I look forward to getting some feedback on it.

THE CULT OF OCASTA can be purchased here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06W2JCVYJ/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1486942262&sr=1-1&keywords=cult+of+ocasta
THE QUARRY can be purchased here: https://www.amazon.com/Quarry-Mark-Allan-Gunnells-ebook/dp/B0073PMCY2/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1486943208&sr=1-1&keywords=quarry+mark+gunnells

Feb. 2nd, 2017


For the next installment of my Origin Stories series, I’ll be dealing with my time-traveling gay romance novel THE EXCHANGE STUDENT.

This novel was written back before I’d ever published anything. It was simply an idea I had that I thought was interesting, and I didn’t worry that it was outside the genre I normally wrote in (as I had published nothing yet, it wasn’t as if I had a reputation or anything). I wanted to write it, so I wrote it.

Shortly before I completed the novel, I sold a gothic gay romance ghost story to an anthology called TANGLE which was published by Blind Eye Books, which specialized in gay and lesbian fiction with a romance angle. I thought they would be the perfect avenue to try.

The publisher ended up passing on the book because it didn’t have a traditional happy ending, and they made some suggestions about changes to certain characters that would have completely altered the story from the one I had wanted to tell. I ended up putting the book aside, not knowing of any other markets to try, and once I was publishing regularly with horror publishers, I kind of forgot all about THE EXCHANGE STUDENT.

Then one day I noticed the file on my computer, opened it up, and read back through the manuscript. I found that I still believed in the story. I had no real knowledge of publishers that worked with gay romance, but I mentioned the book to my editor at Evil Jester Press, Peter Giglio. He suggested I try a digital publisher called Etopia.

I took his advice, sent it in, and within a month had an acceptance and a contract. I was really thrilled, but also nervous. This was outside my normal genre and I wasn’t sure how to promote a book of this ilk. The novel has done reasonably well but not as well as some of my horror stuff, and I didn’t have a lot of my horror readers give it a try. I can understand that, but it also makes me a little sad as I think it’s some of my best plotting and is a satisfying tale. Even though the book has been out for several years now, I still hope it finds a bigger audience. In fact, I’ve even got a sequel called THE TIME GUARDIAN planned in my head that I plan to get down on paper sometime in the near future.

THE EXCHANGE STUDENT can be purchased here: https://www.amazon.com/Exchange-Student-Mark-Allan-Gunnells-ebook/dp/B00C7886L8/ref=la_B005C18L7Q_1_28?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1486034657&sr=1-28&refinements=p_82%3AB005C18L7Q

Jan. 12th, 2017

Origin Stories: THE HUNT

For my latest installment of my Origin Stories blog series, I’ll be focusing on my single-story chapbook THE HUNT.

The story itself was written for the winner of a contest. When Sideshow Press released my collection TALES FROM THE MIDNIGHT SHIFT, we ran a little contest where all those who purchased a copy of the limited hardcover were entered. Steven Souza ended up taking home the prize, and said prize was a story crafted just for him. I sent him a detailed questionnaire about his life and literally built a story from the ground up based on him, with Mr. Souza starring as the main character.

The original plan had been to include the resultant story in my next Sideshow collection. The original title of the collection was actually TALES FROM THE MIDNIGHT SHIFT VOL. 1, so it was assumed we’d do another volume down the road. Unfortunately that never came to pass, and Sideshow eventually started cutting back on releases before finally going out of business.

However, when Tom started Gallow’s Press, focusing on trade paperbacks and ebooks, it was decided that “The Hunt” would still see print as a single-story chapbook available in paperback and digital forms. He would include with the story an excerpt of my Gallow’s novel SEQUEL as well as one of the short stories from TALES FROM THE MIDNIGHT SHIFT (which was being rereleased from Gallow’s).

Tom did the cover art himself, using an actual picture of Mr. Souza to make it even more personal and special for him. The chapbook was finally released in February 2013.

I really enjoy this particular story, I think it is exciting and suspenseful and fast-paced, and I went to great pains to make it as authentic as possible to Mr. Souza’s life. It is truly an idea I never would have come up with had it not been for him. Sales for the story haven’t exactly gone through the roof over the years, but Mr. Souza enjoyed the tale and since my main goal when writing it was to create something he’d get a kick out of, I feel like it has been incredibly successful.

THE HUNT is still available in paperback and ebook here: https://www.amazon.com/Hunt-Mark-Allan-Gunnells-ebook/dp/B00BD5E6E2/ref=la_B005C18L7Q_1_23?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1484265438&sr=1-23&refinements=p_82%3AB005C18L7Q

Dec. 31st, 2016


I continue my Origin Stories series with my coming of age novel THE SUMMER OF WINTERS.

This particular book holds a special place in my heart. It's a coming-of-age tale (one of my favorite sub-genres) set in my hometown in the early 80s. While the main plot is completely fictitious, there is a lot of autobiographical tidbits from my own childhood in this book. I put in all the places that were important to me growing up, and even had the main character living in the very house I lived in as a child.

When I was writing the book, I always intended to send it to Tom Moran, who had published a few other books by me. Once the book was complete, I did just that but unfortunately Tom passed on it. As did a second publisher I sent it too. Both publishers had nice things to say about the story, but neither felt it really fit in with the kinds of things they were publishing.

I put the book aside and worked on other projects. After Evil Jester Press published THE QUARRY, editor Pete Giglio expressed interest in publishing more of my work. I sent him THE SUMMER OF WINTERS to get his impressions of that novel.

His response was very enthusiastic, and he bought it for Evil Jester almost immediately. He edited the book, and he is also responsible for the cover, which I think is very evocative and powerful in its simplicity.

The book was released in early 2013, and as with my previous book, Pete over at Evil Jester worked his ass off promoting the book and it did well for us. It is my most reviewed book on Amazon, and the notices were overwhelmingly positive.

As I said, this one means a lot to me, and I'm really grateful the book is still available out there for people to discover.

THE SUMMER OF WINTERS can be purchased here: https://www.amazon.com/Summer-Winters-Mark-Allan-Gunnells-ebook/dp/B00AW0MVHS/ref=la_B005C18L7Q_1_29?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1483194843&sr=1-29&refinements=p_82%3AB005C18L7Q

Dec. 23rd, 2016

2016 in Review

Now comes the time at the end of each year where I give a little roundup of the things I’ve accomplished in my writing career over the course of the last 12 months.

I’ll start with books I’ve published. 2016 was another year where I had 3 books out. The first of which was released in January, a collection entitled COMPANIONS IN RUIN from Sinister Grin Press (https://www.amazon.com/Companions-Ruin-Mark-Allan-Gunnells-ebook/dp/B01BN7INXE/ref=la_B005C18L7Q_1_24?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482491480&sr=1-24&refinements=p_82%3AB005C18L7Q). There were three editions: the trade paperback, an ebook, and even a limited hardcover. I’m in love with the stark, haunting cover, which they took from an image in my story “Sentinel.”

My next book was published in October, a digital only collection called CURTAIN CALL (https://www.amazon.com/Curtain-Call-Other-Dark-Entertainments-ebook/dp/B01MF8HW19/ref=la_B005C18L7Q_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482491551&sr=1-5). The 10 stories compiled are some of my favorites among my pieces, and the thing that truly blows my mind about this book is that it was released from Cemetery Dance. Talk about a dream come true!

My last book of the year was released just earlier this month from Crystal Lake Publishing. WHERE THE DEAD GO TO DIE, a novel I co-authored with my friend Aaron Dries (https://www.amazon.com/Where-Dead-Die-Aaron-Dries-ebook/dp/B01N1LYOGP/ref=la_B005C18L7Q_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482491589&sr=1-3). It is a zombie tale, but I think one that is very unique and fresh, using zombies as a launching pad for a very emotional and raw story.

I also had a digital short called “The Refugees” out as part of Steve Dillion’s Refuge series, raising money for the Sanctuary Australia Foundation, a humanitarian organization aimed at helping refugees (https://www.amazon.com/Refugees-Refuge-Collection-4-5-ebook/dp/B01N09Q06H/ref=la_B005C18L7Q_1_18?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482491637&sr=1-18&refinements=p_82%3AB005C18L7Q). I actually used some fears brought up in this year’s nasty political campaign to build the story, tying in some thoughts I had about the unfortunate resilience of prejudice.

2016 was a good year for me in terms of having short fiction appear in anthologies as well. In August, Crystal Lake put out TALES FROM THE LAKE VOL. 3, featuring my story “The Pigmalion Pigs.” (https://www.amazon.com/Tales-Lake-Vol-3-Allan-Gunnells-ebook/dp/B01KBTEKKA/ref=la_B005C18L7Q_1_8?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482491589&sr=1-8) I think that’s a fun, strong recent story of mine, and I was really happy for it to be available for folks to read.

September saw the release of DRIVE-IN CREATURE FEATURE from Evil Jester Press (https://www.amazon.com/Drive-Creature-Feature-Eugene-Johnson-ebook/dp/B01LJY0FQO/ref=la_B005C18L7Q_1_15?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482491715&sr=1-15&refinements=p_82%3AB005C18L7Q). An older story of mine, “The Benefactor,” was included in this anthology. I was thrilled to be in a TOC with so many talented authors—Clive Barker, Jonathan Maberry, William F. Nolan, Elizabeth Massie, Christopher Nolan, and Joe Lansdale just to name a few. I was particularly delighted to be in a book with two of my heroes, Barker and Lansdale. Hell, my story was right next to Lansdale’s!

In October, Spectral Press released THE 3rd SPECTRAL BOOK OF HORROR STORIES, and included my tale “Sins of the Father.” (https://www.amazon.com/3rd-Spectral-Book-Horror-Stories-ebook/dp/B01M8P34D3/ref=la_B005C18L7Q_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482491745&sr=1-9) This was a story I’d originally written in hopes of appearing in a themed anthology. Didn’t make the cut and I’d worried there was no real place for it elsewhere, so I was glad to have it appear here.

Just this month, Thunderstorm released a charity anthology to benefit the HWA Relief Fund called DREAD STATE, full of political tales (https://www.amazon.com/Dread-State-Political-Horror-Anthology/dp/0692809686/ref=la_B005C18L7Q_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482491745&sr=1-1). My contribution was a humorous satire called “Take Me to Your Cheerleader” that pokes fun at politics but also at our shallow culture in general. The TOC of this one includes a reprint from Ray Bradbury himself. I never dreamed I’d share space with the late great Bradbury!

I’ve done a lot of writing this year too. Always writing. I completed three novellas this year, two solo and one with a friend. The two solo novellas are entitled BOOK HAVEN and #MakeHalloweenScaryAgain, and with my friend Shane Nelson I wrote a twist on the deal-with-the-devil tale called THE PRICE OF SUCCESS. I also wrote a lot of short stories, as I will never lose my passion for the short form. Here at the end of the year, I’m just getting started on a new novella, THE UNHOLY EUCHARIST.

I also had the opportunity to do some fun events this year. In January I hosted a Literary Scavenger Hunt at Grindstaff’s in my hometown of Gaffney. Three teams competed, and my friends Traci and Michael walked away with the prize pack of books and a gift certificate to the store. It was a lot of fun, and I did a reading from my books FORT and COMPANIONS IN RUIN while I was there.

In April, I was invited to take part in a discussion forum at Clemson University on Queer Writing in the South. It was an interesting panel to be on, and I was honored to have been asked to be a part of it.

In August, I did another Literary Scavenger Hunt, this time at Joe’s Place in Greenville. Like the previous one, we all had a lot of fun, and this time it was my friends Megan and Amanda who were victorious.

October saw two different events for Halloween. I did a reading at Joe’s Place, and I was also invited back to Clemson to take part in their Halloween festival. I read selections from my two Halloween collections and felt very old.

In November, I was invited to attend the Tuesday Woman’s Club meeting in Gaffney. I gave a talk about my work, specifically focusing on my novels THE QUARRY and THE SUMMER OF WINTERS and how the town of Gaffney helped inspire and shape those tales.

I appeared on the news a handful of times throughout the year to promote several of those events, and ask always the folks at WYFF News 4 were incredibly generous and lovely.

On a personal note, the biggest thing to happen to me in 2016 was that Craig and I got married on our shared birthday, October 30th. I don’t think anything in my life has ever made me happier.

2016 has seen a lot of social and political upheaval, and I’m not trivializing that, but for me it has also been a year of accomplishment, joy, and laughter. Even in the darkest times, we have to find the things that bring us happiness and embrace them.

Here’s wishing everyone out there a Happy New Year!

Dec. 18th, 2016

Origin Stories: OCTOBER ROSES

I'm continuing my Origin Stories series with the tale of how I came to publish my Halloween-themed novella OCTOBER ROSES.

I've always loved Halloween fiction. Every October I write Halloween tales, and every October I also like to read Halloween-themed tales. I had discovered that Bad Moon Books routinely published Halloween novellas every year during the fall. It provided me with a lot of really good fiction to read (Paul Melniczek and Lisa Morton published a lot of those), and also got me to thinking.

I am such a lover of all things Halloween, I thought I might be a good fit for Bad Moon's Halloween novella series. October of 2011, I contacted Roy Robbins and asked if I wrote something by the end of the year, would he consider publishing it as part of the series. He responded that he could make no guarantees, but he would be happy to consider anything I might put together.

I had the germ of an idea, and I immediately began working on it. A seemingly straight-forward possession tale with a twist at the end, I figured I could get it finished by Christmas. Turns out I was being a little optimistic. Hit a few roadblocks, mostly because a small section wasn't working so I solved that by excising it completely from the story. I rebounded and finished by February 2012.

I sent it off to Bad Moon and did what I always do when waiting to hear about a submission...I crossed my fingers and waited rather impatiently. I remember the rush of joy I felt when I got the thumbs up. There were some light edits, but nothing too taxing. They provided an absolutely stunning cover.

The book was released in October of 2012 in paperback and digital forms, and I was thrilled to have my second Halloween-themed book on the market. The book hasn't received a wide audience, but it has gotten some nice notices. I even made a Best Of list which was pretty cool. https://horrornovelreviews.com/2013/07/22/the-five-best-recent-horror-novellas/

The following Halloween, I held a book signing at a local bookstore. Mostly friends came by, but I managed to sell one copy of OCTOBER ROSES to a random stranger who happened by. She took the book and left, but she returned an hour later to tell me she went straight to the nearby park and read the story from start to finish. She wanted me to know she enjoyed the novella. It was a very gratifying moment. I found out only later that she had a blog where she reviewed books.

A personal side note, when this was released, it became the first book published after meeting my now-husband and I actually dedicated it to Craig.

I found out a couple of months ago that Bad Moon Books was downsizing their publishing business, removing most of their titles, including mine. Luckily Crossroad Press took over the digital editions of both OCTOBER ROSES and GHOSTS IN THE ATTIC.

I'm glad that OCTOBER ROSES is still available, at least as an ebook. It can be purchased here: https://www.amazon.com/October-Roses-Mark-Allan-Gunnells-ebook/dp/B00A2ET2N0/ref=la_B005C18L7Q_1_20?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482068609&sr=1-20&refinements=p_82%3AB005C18L7Q

Previous 10 | Next 10